I confess! I’m addicted to books! But I have read all the books I own and continue to use them all as reference and/or for teaching.
My addiction carries over into cookbooks, and I doubt if there is even one of these books that hasn’t been used for at least one recipe. Like many cooks, I use recipes for mostly for guidance to come up with my own variation. My cooking has never been an exact science.
The shelves of cookbooks shown above are in my kitchen/dining area, and I have another shelf of cookbooks in another bookcase, because there wasn’t room for them all here. I even borrow cookbooks from the library to read!
When I moved onto my boat from a large house in the late 70s, I gave a book box of cookbooks to each of my four children. This is what I have left!
I know I could probably find the same recipes online, but there is something deeply soul-satisfying about sitting down and reading through an old book of recipes that my mother, or grandmother used. Tucked into each book are other recipes given to me by friends, or that I have cut out of a magazine.
Yes, I think you can say I’m addicted!
Now, you may think that with all these recipes at my disposal, I’d be cooking delicious dishes every day. The fact is, I usually have only myself to cook for and if I ate the way I’d like to cook, I’d be as wide as the channel between here and Maui!
So this week, instead of sharing a recipe with you, I thought I’d tell you about my favorite books on these shelves, and even tell you about some of the recipes in them that I love.
Probably the oldest book I have is a little booklet from the Metropolitan Insurance Company. Several of my books date back to the 30s, but most of what I have date to the 50s, when I was a young woman. My first Christmas as a married woman, I received the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, a three-ring binder that is barely holding together.
I also love my specialty books, like Mme. Bégué’s Recipes of Old New Orleans Creole Cookery, from 1953. I can’t tell you how many pages are spattered with oil and tomato paste! Someday I’ll post the Shrimp Creole from that book that I make often.
I have quite a few Mexican cookbooks, but my favorite is Elena’s Secrets of Mexican Cooking by Elena Zelayeta, blind, but she kept on cooking. Her “Caserola De Pollo Y Elote” (Chicken and Corn Casserole) is full of green chiles and wonderful!
Farm Journal’s Complete Pie Cookbook is another tattered book on my shelves, also full of messy pages! And Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook probably has most of the comfort foods I make.
The Rodale Cookbook published by the Rodale Press is where I go for breads and other wholesome foods. I have several other of the Rodale books and they are all great.
As I peruse the books, it’s fun to see how many phases and stages of eating I’ve gone through. You will find low-fat books, low-carb books, vegetarian/vegan books, and all sorts of specialized diet books, all of which I still use. Then there are the regional books that show where I’ve lived – Guam, Alaska, Arizona, California, Down East, Deep South, the Orient.
Even though I still buy new cookbooks, like those by Martha Stewart and Mark Bittman, I still go back to my old “tried-and-true” standards when I want to make something special for friends. Maybe someday I’ll stop reading them like novels (which is what I do!) and actually use them for cooking.
Now I’m anxious to go find a new one to try for you!
A hui hou!